Home > When You Arrive > Prioritising Your "To Do" List When You Get to France

Prioritising Your "To Do" List When You Get to France

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 23 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
France To Do List Water Electricity

There will be a vast number of pulls on your time when you first arrive in France.

In order to manage your time effectively and make sure you complete the necessary official procedures, you will need to make a clear plan.

Even if you have not been used to making a ‘To Do’ list in the UK, you will find getting into this habit invaluable in your first weeks and months in France.

Stay Calm

By organising your time, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of living in France – the reasons why you choose to move in the first place, like a relaxed pace of life and a better climate. If you are on an endless quest to fill in a form or set up an account, you can feel like you are chasing your tale. Coupled with trying to do all this in a new language and you have a recipe for a stressful situation. It is rather galling to realise that it is at the beginning of your new life in France, when your language skills are likely to be at their worst, when you have to sort out the most technical of circumstances.

The Two Hour Lunch Break

A key factor in the successful execution of your ‘To Do’ list is to understand the two-hour French lunch break. This can make a major difference to what you can achieve in a day, especially as you will need to allow plenty of time between appointments, as you get to know the area, parking facilities and requirements. The majority of shops, offices and businesses close for two hours every lunchtime, usually from twelve noon until two in the afternoon. Either leave early in the morning to get your appointments completed before the lunch break, or plan for a full afternoon.

It is perfectly common for your first few weeks in France to have all good intentions of arranging water, electricity, healthcare and all the other necessities of life, only for you to be waylaid by the wonderful markets and come home with no completed paperwork but a basket full of delicacies! This is all part of the move – do not chastise yourself too much as it will all be done in the end.

The List

This is where your ‘To Do’ list comes in handy as it can help to refocus your mind on the necessary tasks, while allowing you to enjoy your new life. You may think that you will remember what you need to do, but it is surprising how tiring it can be to try to make yourself understood in French and you will soon forget your other plans.

Sit down one day and write a list of what tasks need to be completed – from the important to the minor – and set yourself a schedule, allowing plenty of time. There is no point thinking you can sort out four different situations in one day, as the queues are often long in French offices such as water and banks and you will not be able to rush from place to place.


Prioritise your list by working out the appointments that will impact on your daily life – it is important to be up to date with your utilities for example, because there are no ‘reminder letters’ sent out in France, you are expected to pay bills on time or be fined and/or cut off. Ensure you have a phone line in place, with internet access, especially if you work from home.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • lily
    Re: Importing a Car Into France
    Need some advice please. covid has slowed our plans to move to France and it seems increasingly likely that my husband and I will…
    9 November 2020
  • Rhona
    Re: Reasons for Moving to France From the UK
    Hi,I have holidayed in France a couple of times i am hoping to take a leap of faith and move to France on my own,i…
    9 August 2020
  • Francophile
    Re: The Role of the Mairie in France
    Le maire is the person. Le mairie is the building. Why invite visitors to France to find their own stereotypes?
    31 July 2020
  • alpbabe
    Re: Cost of Living in France
    I'm currently at the start of my journey and planning to retire in France in the next 4 years. I'm a UK passport holder but left the UK…
    4 December 2019
  • Stacey
    Re: 'Live the Dream' TV Shows & The Truth About Moving to France!
    Hi We have just had our offer accepted on a barn in France and would love to…
    3 December 2019
  • Leah
    Re: French Law, What you Need to Know Before you Move
    Hi there! I am curious about filling out the paperwork for french citizenship WITH a criminal record -…
    27 August 2019
  • stewart
    Re: French Fashion
    We are a family of two and intend to move to the Loire valley area within the next 6 months. Can anybody give us a rough estimate of the cost of…
    25 June 2019
  • henryallan1450
    Re: Cost of Living in France
    i would ask you than i wish live south of France because i do like front Sea view very much but i feel bit worried about high rentals…
    29 April 2019
  • Natalie
    Re: Making Friends in France
    Hi. I moved to France last summer and am looking to make English speaking friends or join clubs in the area. I live in Pissy-Poville, a…
    27 January 2019
  • Natalie
    Re: Resources For Expats in France
    I moved to Pissy-Poville (13 kms outside Rouen) last summer and am looking for English speaking clubs and activities - anything…
    27 January 2019